IMBA and the Trail Care Crews encourage and try to facilitate partnerships between local mountain bike clubs and the land managers that oversee the land and parks that are homes or potential homes for mountain bike trails. Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC) and the Three Rivers Park District in the Twin Cities area are a great example of the kind of symbiotic relationship we love to see in action.
Both MORC and the project manager, Jay Thompson, at Elm Creek Park have embraced sustainable trail building methods and are working together to lay down great singletrack opportunities in the greater Minneapolis area. This past weekend we had the opportunity to ride the great new mountain bike trail at Elm Creek Park. The 11 miles of trails just opened this June and are already hugely popular, drawing both experienced riders and those brand new to the sport.
Jay Thompson took great pains in planning the trail, custom creating topographical maps with topo lines representing every two feet of elevation. This enabled them to maximize their use of every bit of the limited 60 feet of overall elevation in the park. They designed along the contour, integrating grade reversals, rollers, bridges, and a few optional lines to keep the trail both sustainable and interesting. It’s fast, flowy, and a blast to ride for both experienced riders and novices alike. The first 8.5 miles was machine built by contractor, Trail Source. The 2.5-mile advanced loop was hand-built by volunteers from MORC.
Park staff and MORC members have established a mutually beneficial and mutually appreciated relationship. Jay Thompson loves seeing the enjoyment the community is getting out of the trail and is excited about making it the best it can be. He also recognizes and appreciates the contribution MORC makes in building and maintaining the trails, as well as being good stewards and advocates of responsible use. MORC understands their good fortune in having an open-minded, progressive, and involved park manager. The park has a large and very well-stocked tool shed on site that MORC volunteers can access for work days. The trailer also has a work log to track volunteer hours.
We were impressed not only by the way the trail at Elm Creek rode, but also by the signage at trailheads, intersections, and throughout they loops. The park district and MORC are doing excellent work!
Next steps at Elm Creek are to put in additional challenge features in the form of “B lines” – optional lines with features like log-overs, rock gardens, and ladder bridges. There are also two other parks in the system in which they will be starting work on new singletrack and fixing up existing trails. We are excited to see what’s around the bend for Minneapolis area mountain biking.
Thanks to MORC for hosting us and giving us the guided tour at Elm Creek and Lebanon Hills. We had a great time!